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|City swimming pools openings may be delayed|
City Council members learned Monday night the scheduled opening of Winnsboro's swimming pools this summer may be delayed due to new drain requirements and took action to relieve city water customers who have trouble paying their bills.
Following a briefing by Donna Remedies on progress of the proposed Franklin Parish Activity Center in the Industrial Park, Mayor Jack Hammons told council members, "Right now, we don't know if the pools will be opened, but we'll let you know as soon as we can. At this point we just don't know where we stand on our pools."
Hammons said the city's insurance companies informed his office of a new state law which requires municipal swimming pools to have "anti-entrapment" drains. He said the city had an agreement with an Alexandria advisor who will inspect the pools and tell officials what needs to be done to bring the pools into compliance.
Remedies told the council at its regular meeting that plans for the Activity Center could be adapted to accommodate new offices for consolidated United States Department of Agriculture agencies—in the event the department trims its Franklin Parish staff. The possible change, she said, demonstrates the versatility of the proposed building.
The Activity Center has been an ongoing project since 1997, she said, "but, we are finally ready to enter the phase of putting out bids."
She said the cost of the center has been lowered about from $8 million to $4 million and includes storage capacity for Homeland Security concerns.
She said plans call for an appearance before the State on May 20 to make a case for final funding and that the downsized plans have support from local state representatives.
The activity center will seat 1,200 when completed and have enough space under roof to accommodate different types of shows and programs. Two complete kitchens enhance the capability of the facility to serve as an emergency shelter in the event of natural disasters.
Hammons requested the council reduce the late charges on delinquent water bills be reduced from $50 to $30.
"We had increased our late fees to $50," Hammons said, "to encourage our customers to pay their bills on time, but, I'm sorry to say, this did not happen. We have just as many late fees today as we had then.
"Seeing so many customers come into city hall every day who are having trouble making ends meet makes me think we should do something, and I think this will help," he said.
Council member approved a proposal by Sonny Dumas to set aside $5,000 annually from the general fund to go toward filling in ditches in the city. He cited health and safety considerations as the need to convert open ditches to covered waterways. He suggested the set aside program continue for the next 20 years, or until completed.
There were no objections.
In other business, fire and police reports were accepted with Fire Chief Truman Welch calling attention to the Alternative School fire earlier this month and councilmen calling police attention to incorrect parking on Prairie Street and night littering in Davis Park.
Renovation plans for the McLemore Building on Adams Street call for the creation of a large meeting hall, containing rest room facilities, a warming kitchen and smaller conference space with interior temperature controls. Engineers for the project expect bids to be around $400,000.
The revision will retain architectural highlights of the building, a glass entry way and special wooden floors.
The city obtained a state grant last year to install a new roof on the building.